Greg Worthington insists he and his new Barrow Raiders team-mates will embrace the challenge of competing with bigger-name clubs once again in the Betfred Championship in 2023.
Paul Crarey’s Raiders finished fourth as a newly-promoted outfit last summer before losing out to Batley Bulldogs in the end-of-season play-offs. And while a host of traditional giants such as Featherstone Rovers, Bradford Bulls, Widnes Vikings, Halifax Panthers and London Broncos are among the fancied clubs in this year’s league, Worthington says his new side are ready to upset a few people again.
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“I think backing up a great season last year for Barrow is the main priority,” Worthington tells The Sportsman following his arrival from Halifax. “Establishing ourselves among the top six play-off positions is going to be a tough ask but it’s something we’re aiming to do and we’re building nicely towards the first league game.
“Last year Barrow probably surprised a few, and I think that’s down to the environment Paul’s created up there. Going into it as a new player this year has been fantastic really, there’s a really good culture at the club and I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly. The hard bit now is backing it up and no longer being that surprise team and establishing ourselves up at the top end of that Championship.”
The Raiders are ninth favourites to win the second-tier Grand Final with Betfred, priced at 25/1, but Worthington insists that the tendency of many to overlook Barrow is not a motivating factor ahead of their season-opener against Toulouse Olympique on Saturday.
“There’s more of a desire to compete with that,” the 32-year-old insists. “To be up there with the top teams you’ve got to perform week in, week out and Barrow showed that they could do that last year. Backing it up is going to be a challenge but it’s a challenge that we’re embracing.
“When we start this league campaign we’re hoping to build on those foundations that were built last year and go one better. We don’t just want to compete, we want to be right there at the top of the league and doing that week in, week out.”
First up, they face a Toulouse side who were relegated from the Betfred Super League last season and have lost a number of players going into their Championship campaign. The match gets underway at the Matt Johnson Prestige Stadium at 3pm on Saturday.
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